Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rose Society of Saddle Back Valley ~ California Tuscan Entertaining Home and Garden

There are many styles of design. What elevates the good and proper to the great and memorable is courage and authenticity.

James is unafraid to experiment, mixing roses with succulents to great effect. 

In his youth, this homeowner mowed lawns for spending money. 

Life was good.  Coming home to his native California after time living in Virginia, he and his partner found this home in the enclave of  Nellie Gail, an equestrian friendly luxury subdivision of Laguna Hills.

Approximately 250 of 350 roses were planted this year 

The home and garden was a bit more ordinary in appearance when the publicity-shy  couple took possession  of the 4,296 square foot home 7 years ago. Then, it was sheaved in proper elements of anonymous origin.

The homeowner recalls the front landscape  at the time they moved in was not much more than  " a big rolling lawn with a stucco planter around the base of the coral tree." Near the garage was " a  no man's land of volunteer palm trees and weeds."

Lawns are used for soft footing to wander through planing beds on.
The well-traveled couple understood that while the home was beautiful, it did not achieve its full potential.  It needed character, a sense of place, an aura of generosity.

With this mission in mind, for each of the past 7 years, the couple sculpted and adorned their home and garden, one area at a time.   James explains the wisdom of  choosing one area at a time to upgrade as "by focusing, we got the detail right." Not only that, the majority of the property remained usable at all times.

Living in an area blessed with the rare climate of Mediterranean Tuscany, many of the design elements and plantings reflect the uncommon commonality of good weather.

From one approach the home is first seen where the horse trail crosses
The garden is about balance. An English garden would be out of place without the strong California influence  created by use of succulents and cactus as well as the more traditional outposts of foxglove and daylily.

Stacked stones visually added textural interest while pushing out the framing of usable planting areas from the lawn.

Iron lighting grounds the froth of roses from visually floating away. 
The garden is both beautiful and serves the practical purpose of providing a cutting garden for entertaining at home and away. As James delightedly reports, he suspects their frequent dinner invitations are due to the lavish hostess bouquets picked the same day as they are presented.

Before we go inside, take a look at the creative mix of foliage and flower potted up at the entrance.

Most of the home was closed to prying eyes, but from what we were allowed to traverse, behind the beauty you sense how the rooms were planned with the intent to entertain larger groups of people who might be enjoying a live performance of the caliber of someone such as David Burnham,  the man nailed the role of Fiyero in Wicked.

The inside renovation began at the front hall. The staircase was originally white wooden spindles. James arranged for cutting back and rounding off the base of the design for aesthetic appeal- and more room for people to move about with ease at the bottom landing.

Plain plaster pillars were cut, fitted with molding and painted in a replication reminiscent of fine European woodworking found in manor houses.

The old gold of the chandelier adds a restrained pop of elegance against the deep wood tones of a formal library.
This library benefited from the luxurious appointments observed on a trip to India just 2 years ago.

Michele Dawn Designs  brilliantly executed depth of color on the interior walls. The magic glow conjured from wines, copper  and metallic gold rubbed into each each other....  magnificent! Equally stunning were the lighter tones of Venetian plaster- a technique requiring patience beyond the  typical house painter. 

Let's walk through a bit of the home without any words. Let my humble images let the house tell its story....

Ah, in the backyard were wonderful reminders that fine design is not about being high end. Fine design is about comfort and beauty appropriate to the owners and the setting.

Little vignettes I found absolutely charming included this hall tree  in the shelter of  the patio . 

James says "I needed something tall and narrow to cover up an old intercom system that we have yet to remove.  I found the damaged hall tree at a second hand shop for about $20 and used some leftover fabric from redoing the headboard on the bed in the master suite. I tacked it to the back and used some of the gardening tools." Voila!

Close up detail

Different proportions of related warm colors highlight the architectural interest. Tall urns are available at Lowe's. 
For those of us old enough to remember the decade of brown, tan and sand- how dreary that color scheme dated so quickly. Here's the design note to explain  what saves this arrangement from the same decorate- by- numbers dullness. The traditional tones of gold, brown and terracotta are saved from cliche' by the  jade rim on the slender ceramic urns. Repeated further back in the picture, it little touch of diversion from a strict colorway adds charm.

James  says of the enchanting cabana on the far side of the pool, that  when they moved in, it was an avoided eye-sore of weathered wood and worn-out fabric overlooking a dusty horse trail.

Fresh paint, clean fabric and dense plantings- voila'- a destination perfect for an intimate chat between friends.  

This lovely outdoor room...

 on a chilly night- the double armed heaters allow more guests to linger before heading home.

Thank you dear readers, for joining me on this tour of  a home loved to its full-potential. 

Until we meet again, Thank you for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful!

Michelle Dawn 949. 350.3340

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Break – Hello to Old Readers and New

A life savored is better than a life rushed through. 

Happy Mid- July-

I lost a mentor and dear friend to heaven and didn't know. RIP Don Skraba. Your habit of sending cheerful notes by real mail brought smiles to everyone lucky enough to see your handwriting on the envelope. I think you would be pleased to know that I've learned to slow down. 

Alex, son of Manny and Krista Chavez came over to help pick fruit.
The chair cover  is made from 1-1/2 towels and 3 straight seems.
 Southern California is having a nice-spring-day- in-Florida summer. A little bit hot and a whole lot of moisture in the air.  One personal piece this week was titled “Either it rained last night or I need to adjust the sprinklers.”  

Mint  pops through the ground cover roses 
It was measurable rain- not by the gauge on the garden arch. The evidence - it calculated just enough moisture to splatter the dust which the breeze normally blows away into Rorschach blotches across the windshield of my faithful old car.

As the scent of jasmine fades away, stephanotis  fills the air 
I stay in shape by keeping busy with projects like little building stairways and retaining walls. 
Hallelujah and amen. God’s shade-cloth dropped the temperature below triple digits just in time for me to finish the back wall on the retaining wall I built behind where bunnies and squirrels have so enjoyed the produce we've tried to grow.  
The mini quadcopter has joined the fleet of dragonflies in our backyard airspace.
A Very Good Life- this blog is what old school would have called a journal.  A recording of one specific woman’s journey.  Some of pictures which follow are historic to our family. My McGuyver, Gerry, invented a way to restore the disintegrated slides which involves aiming the old carousel projector, a cardboard box to aim my camera through and is linked to his computer.

Before I learned to cook I was really thin. The Frye boots I wore surely out-weighed me. 
  I am blessed to be in good health, my business is growing.   For close to 38 years my husband grows ever more in his role of my miracle man.

My husband with his first girlfriend. It must have been a fling. he doesn't remember her name):-. 
 Our sons have grown to be amazing men. The youngest married well. He and his wife gave us the most gorgeous grandchild, the lovely Charley. Not yet 4 months old, she has me rethinking my garden as one where children will play in. Learn about butterflies, birds, bees and blooms.

Papa Kenny wearing Bass Knuckles t-shirt, I'm holding my granddaughter and mom Shannon 
If our good fortune holds out, she and her cousins will learn to love nature in the garden which I am head over heals in love with.  This place is not important for what I have done to it.  Of higher importance is how the act of gardening shaped me from a city slicker to a country girl.

I thank you for your patience between blog posts. I LOVE visiting with you here. When I disappear be certain it is commercial interests that pull me away like a sailor to sea. How I make my living, as a journalist focused on garden-centered living, is not the easiest. It is simply the best. What God always meant me to do while I was busy arguing the point with him.

The journey we take in life.... the wisest among us know to enjoy wherever and however we travel it. My father in law was stationed in the UK when Queen Elizabeth was coronated. These two photos are from her coronation.  May God protect her; the land and the people she serves.  

In the queue are more gardens and gardeners for you to meet. 

Until we meet again, thank you for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rose Society of Saddleback Valley Elegant and Enchanting- Part IV

Forever Young: The gardens of Patricia and Steve Buice enchant with stories abounding with what a life well-lived looks like. 

If you spent 4th grade in the California classroom you studied missions. Remember building a model of sugar cube "adobe". This rustic representation of our heritage in a rusted wheelbarrow rates an A++. 

Why should the inside dining room have all the decorative fun? The blessing of the Southern California region is how much time we can spend out-doors. Objects of art do not have to be expensive to be full of memories.  See them and dream. 

When my soul departs,  I would not mind if my remains were set in a ginger jar and positioned to watch over the garden. 

What makes Steve and Patricia's recessed entry so delightfully restful? Soft layers of design elements executed with the care of a traditional inside room. Colorful tile outlines the point of entry to the home. 
The expanse of a bare wall is tamed with a trio of art. A soft pad on the seat offers a place to put your feet up or a package beneath. Ferns. Fountain. A tracery of vines. 

Not just the portal for entry to their home- this is a place for private contemplation.  

Guests to the garden on the day of the tour were side yard guests, passing plump plantings of  sunshine  yellow iris then under the metal arch covered with roses set to shower their petals. 

Just past the gate, pet chickens welcome visitors. In a serious world it is important to find  triggers to childlike joy. To keep little farm animals makes one feel like living in a storybook farm. 

Nearby, a tea set is at ready for a party for two.  This is just one of many ideas I am saving up for when my granddaughter toddles under her own power):-  

Patricia shared that the late Bea Grow was a mentor to the couple. The doyenne of Orange County gardeners taught that when making a choice- "Go for the wow." In this case, with splashes of deepest blue. 

Little mice scampering between chunks of slag glass add just the right sense of humor. 

Ripe strawberries hanging off a a classic cement potted up  offer delicious contrast. 

Design note: the ancient appearance of the pot bridges the modernity of  the furniture to the many vintage elements of the garden. This is much more inviting than if an end table matching the set defined the furniture arrangement's outer edge.

If this garden had just this fountain, it would be enough. Lucky for us- there is still more. 

The lawn was as it should be, lush and large enough to play in. To lay on staring up at the stars then rollover to pick between all the shades of green; hunting for snails and other crawly and flying things. 

Fairies live in this garden. This one proudly showing off his fresh lilliputian harvest. 

Just to the side of the fairy's post is this lounge chair Patricia rescued from a garage sale. Steve reinforced it with rebar, stretching landscape fabric over the horizontal frame- forming the cushion on which his wife quilted a coverlet of moss and ivy. 

Shade is from above. At night- can you imagine the romance these vintage hanging lamps sourced from e-Bay have seen? Hubba. Hubba):- 

Steve explains to my friend, Marilyn Bowery, how he built the platform to the tree house from used lumber he was given in 1986. He is pointing up to where the little ice-cream soda style chair his daughter sat in when she was a sapling and the tree was not much taller than the railed platform. As the tree grew, they let the branches carry the chair to where it marks how far upwards the journey in life has carried them. 

Nature and art. This magic little scene is just below the bridge leading to the tree house. It seems a good spot to rest. Something a garden should have lots of are places to rest the eye. To contemplate that the real world is not just work and trouble. The real world is ripe with love and goodness. If we only care enough to look. To create. To enjoy. To give thanks for. 

Until we meet again, thank you for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful.